United's seven-game unbeaten run ends in 2-0 loss at Colorado | KSTP.com

United's seven-game unbeaten run ends in 2-0 loss at Colorado

Minnesota United defender Jukka Raitala, right, falls over Colorado Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Commerce City, Colo. Photo: (AP Photo/David Zalubowski). Minnesota United defender Jukka Raitala, right, falls over Colorado Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett during the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Commerce City, Colo.

Updated: July 07, 2021 11:42 PM
Created: July 07, 2021 11:15 PM

Minnesota United came into Wednesday’s midweek match with the Colorado Rapids riding a seven-game unbeaten streak, but also knowing full well they let a home win against San Jose get away and that they haven’t yet managed a win in the Centennial State. Injuries to their two starting centerbacks, Michael Boxall and Bakaye Dibassy, meant the starting XI would look quite a bit different, and Minnesota never managed to grab hold of the game, conceding a goal just before halftime and then another late in the second half to fall 2-0.

With DJ Taylor starting at right back for Romain Metanire — who remains in France sorting out his green card application — and Jan Gregus and Osvaldo Alonso stepping into midfield, the back half of the field looked quite a bit different than Loons fans have become accustomed to. The result of all the changes was immediately apparent as the visitors struggled to hit a rhythm early on. They got the better of the possession battle overall, but couldn’t find the pass to break Colorado’s lines, instead moving the ball in a U around the pitch and then often turning it over as they attempted to pick out offensive opportunities.

Colorado’s plan was clear. They went early and often to Michael Barrios — who has traditionally fared well against Minnesota, ever since his time with FC Dallas — on the right wing in an attempt to isolate and break down Chase Gasper. To his credit, Gasper did well to mostly contain the speedy Barrios, blocking several crosses in the process. But the Rapids’ relentless pressure down the line also forced Gasper to sit back and do less on offense himself. This placed a lot of weight on Emanuel Reynoso as a playmaker in the middle of the field, and he struggled to find Franco Fragapane and the newly returned Robin Lod in good positions. At least some of that was because of Gregus and Alonso having to stay home more to help shore up the centerback pairing of Brent Kallman and Jukka Raitala. 

Colorado’s defensive pressure only got bolder through the first half as their midfielders stepped hard to the recipient of any pass from the backline. Despite the Rapids appearing to have gotten the best of the game through the first 45, it looked like the Loons might escape to halftime in a scoreless draw, perhaps with a chance to make adjustments and being the second half with a clean slate. But then in the final minute of the first half, Colorado’s Braian Galvan — who had switched sides with Barrios — got the ball on his left foot on the right side of the box and evaded Gasper long enough to whip in a curled shot just past Tyler Miller’s outstretched fingers and onto the left post to make it 1-0 just before the halftime whistle.

To their credit, Minnesota began the second half with more energy than they started the first, but they still couldn’t all get on the same page, with opportunities going begging as crosses failed to find targets and passes continued to come up short or go long. The Rapids picked up where they left off, carving out chances off of turnovers. 

Seeking a different energy, Head Coach Adrian Heath went to his bench in the 65th minute for forward Ramon Abila to replace Adrien Hunou. In the 72nd minute, a furious set of chances in front of goal for the home side ended with Rubio sending a cross towards Cole Bassett, who headed the ball high. A minute later, Miller was forced into a gutsy save at close range on Rubio, and Fragapane was there on the near post to keep the ball out with a timely header on the ground on the follow-up. In the 76th minute, Heath went to the bench again to bring in Niko Hansen, Ethan Finlay and Hassani Dotson for Robin Lod, Franco Fragapane and Osvaldo Alonso, respectively.

Right away, Finlay provided an injection of energy, sprinting after long through balls down the right wing, but before the subs could even really find their feet, Colorado got on the board again. Off a turnover, Andre Shinyashiki found himself with the ball in front of a wall of defenders near the edge of the box. He attempted a give-and-go out wide but when his pass missed the mark, he followed it himself and chipped Miller to make it 2-0.

In the 86th minute, while getting set up for a free kick, Abila objected to a bit of a shove by Rubio and gave him a shot in the side. At first, it appeared that nothing had happened but on video review, the ref saw the punch and delivered a red card to Abila, reducing the Loons to 10 men. From there, it was all they could do to hang in the game for eight minutes of stoppage time and Minnesota United ultimately fell 2-0, their unbeaten streak snapped at seven.

Courtesy: Minnesota United FC

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